There's only one way to break a really bad habit
Harold Petersen had a really bad habit—a dirty secret that made him feel good.
It was little girls.
He had other bad habits, but it was this one that he loved, the one he couldn’t quit, the one that gives parents nightmares.
Harold was forty-seven-years-old, paunchy, and balding on top, which he cleverly covered by changing the way he greased and parted his hair. He wore thick glasses with a strip of masking tape wrapped around the frame at the nose-piece where they were cracked and broken. He buttoned every button on his shirt, all the way to the collar, and wore his pants above his belt-line so that his sagging white socks showed.
Today, he waited outside Holland Elementary, sitting in his car watching—waiting. When the bell rang, the kids poured out of the classrooms. He saw so many he wanted to be with, but knew he had to wait for the right one—the perfect one.
Finally, a little girl with a Scooby-Doo backpack and a pink ribbon in her hair, stood alone by the gate. Harold felt the connection. He knew that she needed him—wanted him, and was just waiting for it to happen. He opened his car door and slipped out of the seat, watching the little girl, seeing her petite little skirt flap up in the wind. His mouth felt dry, his tongue sandy, and then he quickly moved toward her.
At the far end of the school parking lot, one of those pint-sized buses came tearing into the driveway. The little girl stepped out to greet it smiling and waving.
Harold could plainly see through the windshield of the bus, that the driver was clutching at her chest as if in great pain. Then she slumped forward onto the steering wheel, as the bus barreled forward, careening toward the little girl.
Without hesitating, Harold lunged in front of the bus and shoved the child out of the way. The crazed yellow monster took him from the side, pinned him to the grill and bumper, and then smashed into his parked car.
He flapped his arms across the hood of the bus like a dying bird—like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, his body nearly severed in two, blood flowing down his legs and running dark and syrupy across the hot asphalt.
Someone stood beside him then, holding his hand. Looking down, he saw the little girl with the pink ribbon. She was scared and crying. Harold was used to that, they always cried at first. He put on his biggest smile, unaware of what had just happened to him, numb below the waist, his guts falling out on the ground. But still, he attempted to coax the girl, his mouth working up and down like a dying fish as warm blood gurgled down his chin and neck. He told himself he was going to have to break his habit someday, but not today—today there was a pretty little girl with a pink ribbon in her hair, and he was feeling rather sleepy.